Mayor plans 'clean water' scheme for Guangzhou

'River chiefs', sewage and treatment plants proposed in bid to tackle foul waterways

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 5:30am

Guangzhou plans to inject 14 billion yuan (HK$17.6 billion) into cleaning up its black and putrid-smelling rivers over three years - but not everyone is convinced that the plan will yield the desired results.

Mayor Chen Jianhua released his plan to improve the water quality in Guangzhou's rivers on Friday, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.

Under the scheme, a total of 12 new sewage- and rainwater-treatment projects will be completed by 2016. All sewage from 283 villages is earmarked to be treated before it is discharged and 16 main waterways thoroughly cleaned.

Chen said more cash would be invested between 2016 and 2020, without giving an estimate. By 2020, he said, the water in the Guangzhou section of the Pearl River would be clean enough to meet drinking-water standards during rainy seasons, and an additional 27 waterways in the city would be cleaned. Chen also announced that a senior official from every district and county-level city administered by Guangzhou would be named a "river chief" and held accountable for the water quality in their respective administrative regions.

But the report did not mention whether or how those heads would be punished if the waterways were not cleaned up by the project's deadline.

According to the report, more than a third of Guangzhou's rivers remain contaminated. There are now more than 200 small waterways in Guangzhou's urban areas - and most are used for residential sewage.

Chen's plan is the city's second water-cleaning undertaking since it set aside 48.6 billion yuan to clean up rivers during the three years before the provincial capital hosted the 2010 Asian Games. By the end of 2008, the then-mayor, Zhang Guangning , promised the public that the city's waterways would be made clean enough for district leaders to swim in all year round, according to

But Xiong Yang , an official with Green River, a China-based non-governmental environmental organisation, said: "The factories have gone to the north and west of Guangdong … they should use most of the money [there], upstream - where the pollutants come from."